The Curator's Office in Minneapolis, Minnesota

After Barton Kestle, first curator of modern art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, disappeared aboard a train bound for Washington, D.C. on March 27, 1954 his office was boarded up and lost to the ages.

During a series of renovations the museum undertook in 2011, hapless workers tore down a wall and were stunned to find Kestle's office, with all his belongings exactly where he'd left them a half-century earlier. Today's enterprising curators understood that the scene was as...

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